I just finished writing a university entrance essay with this prompt: “How has living abroad prepared you for US university life?”
Here’s what I wanted to say…
1. I’ve never driven a car in my life (except for a tractor in China), but I can maneuver through international airports.
I live in Hiroshima, Japan, where public transportation is much simpler than driving a car. To me, sorting out cancelled flights or undergoing a 10-hour layover in a bustling international airport sounds less terrifying than navigating American street signs during a driving test.
2. I don’t remember what a check looks like, but I’m a proficient bargainer.
The last time I saw a check was when I practiced signing a fake one in my fourth-grade American math workbook. But thanks to night markets in Thailand and day bazaars in Hong Kong, I’ve learned the tricks of finagling the honest price out of street vendors — despite my disadvantageous Western appearance.
3. I’m not accustomed to American mannerisms, but I have eagle eyes when it comes to cultural observation and assimilation.
Except for a few miscellaneous slip-ups (like the time my twin sister and I were visiting US colleges and she accidentally bowed to the cafeteria lady) we’ve learned to be cultural chameleons. Don’t know what a cultural chameleon is? Becoming one goes something like this: Enter new culture. Observe. Copy. Observe more. Listen. Copy better. Go shopping for a new wardrobe. Slowly blend in.
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